December 11, 1981 – March 24, 2023
In loving memory~
15 Kislev 5742 – 2 Nisan 5783
With hearts heavy with grief but buoyed by immense love and gratitude, we announce that Aaron Ross Banfield, of blessed memory, left his body on March 24, 2023 in Trail, BC
Aaron was born in the heart of winter under the bright light of a full moon on Dec 11, 1981, to his parents Judy and Peter Banfield, in Prince George, BC. He entered the world in what would become his most natural habitat – surrounded by snow and frosted air. In 1984, his sister Elena was born, and the two quickly became deeply connected friends and companions. Aaron spent his early life as a bush kid, and would always feel the most nurtured, alive, and whole in wild places.
In 1985 the family moved to Vancouver, then to Nelson in 1990. Throughout his youth, he delighted in being on stage and participated in summer youth theatre, LVR drama, and community productions. Theatre helped him find and train his voice. He revelled in making, watching, and analyzing films, and hosted a movie review show in the early days of Kootenay Co-op Radio. He also trained in fencing and martial arts (Kung Fu and Qi Gong), worked at the NGO Earth Matters, and was involved in environmental and political activism.
Aaron experienced severe Crohn’s Disease as a child, and it was alternative medicine, particularly Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), that allowed him to live a full and healthy life. This inspired Aaron to pursue TCM as a life path. He moved to Vancouver in 2004 to complete credits at UBC, then to Victoria to attend the Canadian College of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. He was a gifted practitioner of acupuncture, acupressure, and other modalities, and had intuitive, almost magical abilities. Many have shared that he was the one who found the root of issues that had eluded doctors and other practitioners, and changed their whole approach to health. Aaron dug deeper into the spiritual and emotional, not just the physical, to find a patient’s path to wellness.
In Victoria Aaron also began a dedicated Ashtanga Yoga practice, started a holistic medicine clinic, treating patients at Hemma and Acacia Health, led workshops, conscious hiking groups and men’s circles, sang kirtan, hosted fabulous parties and potlucks, and graced many dancefloors. It’s also where he got his beloved companion, the “miracle cat” Numi, who was by his side for 17 years. In 2018, Aaron returned to the Kootenays, missing winter and small-town life in the mountains. He settled in Rossland, established an acupuncture practice at Madhu Collective, and began building community as he did everywhere he went.
Aaron loved acquiring knowledge and sharing it with others, thriving as a teacher and facilitator. He spoke effortlessly in front of a crowd and on camera, and was a master of language. His memory was a marvel, with an unmatched ability to recall dates of personal and global significance. His sense of humour was playful, his wit sharp, and he cracked jokes until his final moments. He loved to host and prepare elaborate meals. He had little interest in superficialities, always getting to the real and deep stuff in conversation. Aaron was fascinated by history, particularly military history, seeking to understand the conflict in order to work towards a world of peace. If life had given him more time, he would have become a principled and visionary politician.
Aaron was strongly connected to his Jewish lineage. He was the president of his congregation, Kolot Mayim, in Victoria, and worked to bring together the Jewish community in Nelson and Rossland when he returned to the Kootenays. He believed in the power and importance of ritual, tradition, and ceremony. In another universe, he would have been an incredible Rabbi.
In 2018, at age 37, Aaron was diagnosed with colon cancer. After a year of treatment and surgery, he was cancer-free. The cancer returned in 2021, and in June 2022 he was given a terminal diagnosis and expected to live a matter of weeks. He resolved to face death with presence, consciousness, and grace. He then defied all expectations and persisted for 9 months, living in palliative care at Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital (KBRH). He shared his miraculous journey through a series of Youtube videos (search his name), inspiring innumerable people with his candid emotions, wise insights, acceptance, and unbelievable courage. He was someone who always chased a feeling of “aliveness,” and sought to die “as full of life as possible.” This led him to initiate the development of the nondenominational Sacred Space at KBRH, so patients, families, and staff will have a beautiful place for self-care. The KBRH administration has been incredibly supportive, and we encourage you to visit the 3rd floor to experience Aaron’s legacy.
Aaron resolved to die a good death, and that is what he did. He left on his own terms, surrounded by people he loved, fully present and deep in the ceremony, leaving his body while singing with a powerful life force. Aaron’s passing is felt by his mother Judy, sister Elena, father Peter, step-father Jack Harrison, Aunt Marcia Jean Kurtz and Uncle Sidney Rosenblum, and countless friends, family and community members. He is predeceased by his grandparents Irving and Dora Kurtz, Eileen Rutherford and Clyde Banfield. We would like to thank the incredible staff at KBRH who modelled the highest ideals of care, everyone who donated to the GoFundMe, Rabbi Hanna Tiferet Siegel for her spiritual mentorship and for leading his death and funeral ceremonies, and the community that has held Aaron and his family.
Aaron’s funeral and burial took place through Clark’s Funeral Services on March 26th in Nelson. A celebration of life will be held on May 7th, 2023, at 2 pm at Sunset Labs, 400 Herald St, Victoria, B.C.
Donations can be made to Aaron’s GoFundMe (search his name) or to the KBRH Sacred Space Project through the KBRH Foundation.
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